Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Book Review: A Game of Secrets

A Game of Secrets
By Dawn Tripp
Random House, 2011
English, 273 pages

Description from Amazon:
In 1957, Jane Weld was eleven years old when her father, Luce, disappeared. His skiff was found drifting near a marsh, empty except for his hunting coat and a box of shotgun shells. No one in their small New England town knew for sure what happened until, three years later, Luce’s skull rolled out of a gravel pit, a bullet hole in the temple. Rumors sprang up that he had been murdered by the jealous husband of his mistress, Ada Varick.

Now, half a century later, Jane is still searching for the truth of her father’s death, a mystery made more urgent by the unexpected romance that her willful daughter, Marne, has struck up with one of Ada’s sons. As the love affair intensifies, Jane and Ada meet for their weekly Friday game of Scrabble, a pastime that soon transforms into a cat-and-mouse game of words long left unspoken, and dark secrets best left untold.

This book captured me really quickly and I was racing to read it to see what was going to happen. The plot twists and shifts in time a lot, but it's very easy to follow. I did not see the ending coming. Other reviewers have said there were clues about it, but I didn't catch any of them! I'm still not sure how I feel about the ending though. I'm not a plot spoiler so I can't say what happens, but the ending just kinda felt flat to me. It felt like a lot of momentum built and then just stopped.

There were a lot of random characters who get introduced, then forgotten. Kinda makes me wonder why the were there at all. I guess I can see how some of them were devices to move a character along. There were several scenes I didn't understand why someone did what they did. One particular scene was when Marne is riding her bike and stops short when she sees Hank. I don't know why. It was a little vague.

There are many questions left unanswered and I suppose that leaves room for another book in a series (this book has many characters from Tripp's previous books - which are in my nook wishlist...), but I wanted to understand more than I did about who knows what and what happens to some in the end.

I have say though, through Jane and Ada's Scrabble game...I have been watching closer on my Words With Friends games to see if I can pull off some of the "boodles" that Ada loves! I also learned a lot of "dinks" that I've been using...much to certain friends dismay!

I received a copy of the book in exchange for a review. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Book Review: A Quest for Good Manners

A Quest for Good Manners
By Karen LeFranc
Beluga Press, 2011
English, 32 pages

A Quest for Good Manners is a Mom's Choice Awards® Gold Recipient.
Rosalind is not your typical princess she and her pet dragon, Sparkler, are very rude. "What's the big deal with manners anyway?" the princess asks. "Why do we always have to say please and thank you? And who cares how we use a napkin?" Appalled by this behavior, the queen banishes the impolite pair from her castle until they find Good Manners. Percival, the wizard, sends them on their quest with the help of a magic fork, facing several challenges along the way. Not until the final test do Rosalind and Sparkler discover the real secret behind Good Manners.
Manners are more than mere rules of etiquette. Good manners make others feel at ease and are the foundation of compassion and gratitude. It is a never-ending quest for parents and teachers to instill in our children the importance of good manners. This book is a precious tool in achieving that goal. Children and parents alike will love and learn from this story.

My little boys have loved this book since it came in earlier in the week. My 5 year old is scared he's going to be banished if he doesn't get better manners too. Hey, I'll take it. It's working! He has been more polite than he was before. I've quizzed him several times on the 4 important things to say (Please, Thank You, You're Welcome, I'm Sorry) and he has them down! He has even been polite to his younger brother! There has also been less slurping and burping.

The book is really cute and the pictures are excellent! It's a book that you will find yourself reading over and over with your kids. There were only a few words I had to explain (banish, craggy). I've noticed the 5 year old on his bed re-reading it several times by himself!

The lessons in the book are so important and not always easy to teach. I'm glad there's a story to read where we can discuss what's going on and why things happen as they do in the book. It's putting the message into their heads in a way that is more fun and is less Mom!

I received a copy of the book in exchange for a review. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.